You are here

When is it Time to Replace a Roof?

worker working on the roof

By Jerry L'Ecuyer & Frank Alvarez

How to know if you need a new roof or if repairs will do the trick.

Dear Maintenance Men:

How do I determine if it is time to replace a roof or just have some maintenance or minor repairs done?

Dear Ed:

Determining if a roof actually needs replacement or should be repaired is sometimes more of an art than a science. An old roof in good condition that has roof leaks may be as simple to solve as an inspection of the roof flashing system. The roof flashing is where the roof meets a different material or changes course. For example, roof flashing is found around the chimney, in valleys, where the roof transitions to vertical a wall or around vent pipes. Any roof transition area is a potential roof leak. Keeping the roof flashings in good order is the first line of defense. However, should your roof be experiencing leaks in several different areas, missing granules (bald spots) and pooling; might be an indication of a roof past its prime and ready for replacement. In the case of a shingle roof, the telltale signs are more obvious. For example, a shingle roof may exhibit curling edges, loss of granules and material brittleness. This roof may be beyond repairs and should be replaced. Tile roofs may present different issues as they may look great on the outside, but have hidden damage under the tiles, such as a rotted felt membrane or disintegrating roofing paper. These are much more difficult to solve and often times the repairs are more expensive than replacement.


When requesting a bid from a roofing contractor, always ask for a cost to repair the existing roof and a cost to replace the roof. When having multiple bids, always use the same scope of work for each roofer. A deviation in scope will make it harder to determine the correct course of action.